Barbaric ritual leads to another death

Barbaric ritual leads to another death March 8, 2012

RITUAL circumcision is an abomination. But the bizarre practice of sucking the blood from a genitally mutilated infant after the foreskin is removed is even more horrific – even deadly.
According to a report yesterday in the New York Times, prosecutors are investigating the death of a newborn boy who died in last September after contracting herpes after he was subjected to:

Ritual circumcision with oral suction.

Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J Hynes, confirmed that the investigation was continuing, but declined to comment further.
The cause of death of the 2-week-old boy, who died at Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn on September 28, was Type 1 herpes.
The ritual of oral suction — or in Hebrew, metzitzah b’peh — is practiced almost exclusively in ultra-Orthodox communities and, to a lesser degree, in Orthodox Jewish communities, despite efforts by the city to curtail it and educate communities about its health risks.
The procedure occurs during the circumcision ritual of the bris, as the practitioner, or mohel, removes the foreskin of the penis and then sucks the blood from the wound to clean it.
In 2003 and 2004, the city reported three cases of Type 1 herpes that were linked to circumcision, involving a boy on Staten Island and twin boys in Brooklyn, one of whom died. The procedures were done by one mohel, Rabbi Yitzchok Fischer, who was later prohibited from performing the ritual in New York City.
According to the NYT report, the authorities have not determined the identity of the mohel in the most recent case, but since the death they have been trying to work with the Hasidic community.
In 2004, after the death of the twin, the Brooklyn district attorney tried to open an investigation but received little cooperation within the community, according to a person with knowledge of the case who spoke on the condition of anonymity because it was not brought to trial.
Roughly two-thirds of newborn boys in the city’s Orthodox communities are circumcised with metzitzah b’peh, said Rabbi David Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, who said he was using a calculation based on religious school enrolment figures.
He said that the mohels in the Hasidic community were cognisant of hygiene and that there were things they could do to reduce the risk of herpes without ending the practice.
The rabbi said:

We’re not oblivious to what’s going on. The worst thing that could happen is if the authorities regulate this practice, then it could go underground. I think the practice would continue, but there could be significant difficulty in gathering evidence. I would hope that our government officials take steps in conjunction with the community.

In 2005, Mayor Michael R Bloomberg assembled rabbis throughout the city to try to persuade them to move away from metzitzah b’peh. But they said that the practice was safe and that there was no definitive evidence that it caused herpes. Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organization in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, said at the time:

The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change.

But in the Bronx on Tuesday, the mayor talked about the medical examiner’s findings in the most recent death, which was also investigated by the health department.

There is probably nobody in public life who fights harder for the separation of church and state than I do, but I just wanted to remind everybody: religious liberty does not simply extend to injuring others or putting children at risk. And we will continue working with the community and others to prevent more baby boys from suffering these tragic fates.

Hat tip: Remigius and Ivan

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  • barriejohn

    Sucking kids’ penises. Strange that the Catholics don’t have this rite too!

  • David Anderson

    They do barriejohn but for them it’s the other way round.

  • barriejohn

    I sent you a link to this story as soon as I saw it, Barry. Have you been receiving my messages?

  • Lurker111

    Please tell me this is some psychopath’s version of a Poe. Please.

  • In a rational world I wouldn’t have to ask, since obviously this blog post is an editorial comment on a news story of some significance, but… is it perhaps a bit of a problem to have an image there that could be construed as child pornography? The US did ban U2’s album cover for Boy because it was an image of a young boy with a bare chest, and there was that whole Wikipedia kerfuffle over another album and some artwork. I would not want those regularly coming here, or those operating the site, to wind up in trouble with their ISP or the law because some people do not understand context.
    As for the story… wtf?! There is no evidence that it causes herpes? It is the exposure of an open wound to another person’s saliva. It can, theoretically at least, cause all sorts of things. To deny this is just asinine. And to be so adamant that the community will not change, no matter how many deaths the practice causes (not to mention the whole ‘it is not acceptable to suck on the genitals of children’ factor), is vile. I’m not sure why Bloomberg keeps talking about ‘working with the community’. The community clearly does not care. If you want them to stop the practice, you have to tell them in no uncertain terms it is not tolerable.

  • Pete H

    That actually made me feel sick.
    These actions:
    adult mouth-to-child’s penis contact
    willfully shielding the perpetrator from the police
    would be strongly prosecuted under any other circumstances, ie if it were not done under the umbrella of religion.
    What the fuck is wrong with this world that belief in a sky fairy means that doing all of the above is OK?
    Disgusting. Sickening.

  • northern light

    Only in a religious context would it be possible for a man to have a child’s penis in his mouth.
    This practice along with genital mutilation and other abhorant acts of human degredadtion show up religion for what it really is….a barbaric throw back to a bronze age mindset that ignores modern science and modern cultural behavior.
    Each time that we think we have heard the worst about religion and it’s practices we only have to wait awaile to be assaulted anew with religion’s disgusting inhuman practices…….all in the name of what ……a diety.
    These people make me so fucking mad it is difficult to write a coherent sentence.

  • Faithless

    Wow, this is wrong on so many levels. If its this guys job, then I just wonder how many boy’s penises has this guy sucked…grossed out.

  • AgentCormac

    If this were to happen in anything but the name of religion these sick bastards would be locked up and facing years of retribution at the hands of fellow inmates. It never ceases to amaze me just how vile religiots can be.

  • Pete H
  • Barry Duke

    @BarrieJohn: Sorry about not hat-tipping you for this one. Your links have been coming through fine, but I have just returned from five intensive, hard-working days in the UK to find an overflowing inbox. I stupidly decided to work through them from the top down.

  • Graham Martin-Royle

    When will the genital mutilation of children stop? I don’t give a toss that their religion tells them to do it, it’s barbaric and should be outlawed.

  • Broga

    What struck me was the open mouth of the baby screaming in agony; the smug grey haired sadist holding the baby and the complacent and approving audience, with these bloody ridiculous caps, looking on. Religious abuse doesn’t get much worse than this. Is the scoundrel doing the sucking getting a perverted thrill out of this?
    Is this happening in the UK?

  • DC78

    I understand that this practice was used to ‘clean’ the wound. The mohel would take vinegar in his mouth before sucking on the baby’s cut penis. The mixture of blood, vinegar and saliva would then be spat into a jug of wine, which would be drank amongst the child’s family and sometimes by the baby too, poured down a funnel into the baby’s mouth. But it’s okay, because it’s religion, right?

  • David Anderson

    Well this is religion you see. While one might forgive the ignorant and superstitious people who invented this vile act 5,000 years ago, these people have no excuse for their disgusting behaviour. Many religious beliefs have been abandoned in the light of education and progress and this cries out to be one of them.
    You mustn’t abort a cluster of cells from a woman’s body but you can kill her baby after it’s born provided the act is religious.
    “According to the NYT report, authorities have not determined the identity of the mohel in the most recent case but they have been trying to work with the Hasidic community.”
    What utter bullshit this is. The parents of this unfortunate infant know exactly who this gobshite is and so does the community. They are all accessories before the fact.

  • Broga

    @David Anderson: If they can’t identify who performed these barbaric acts then the implication is clear: they don’t want to find these scum. They don’t want the hassle of religious bigots howling that they are being discriminated against.
    We never hear from our media hungry Chief Rabbi on this although he has much to say regarding other issues. Or what about Cardinal O’Brien, currently hysterical about gay marriages, or the low profile Archbishop of Canterbury or the man who fancies himself in that job – the egregious Sentamu. It’s like a religious club. They don’t criticise each other’s superstitions no matter how barbaric. That gives them lots of time to fulminate against gay couples and women priests.

  • barriejohn

    I knew that you’d been away Barry, as I saw it on Facebook. I was just worried that all my messages had escaped into the ether! We’re enjoying glorious spring weather here now, and I spent today pruning the roses. Hope to see you on Benidorm this week anyway!

  • David Anderson

    @Broga: Quite so. If they don’t know who did this then another charge must be that the baby was abducted. I don’t know if they have the same law in the US, but if they do, surely these people should be charged with preventing the cause of justice. Then again, I assume that the “authorities” that are investigating this is the NYC police dept. We know that they will be more concerned with pepper spraying innocent people.

  • David Anderson

    That should be “perverting the cause of justice” of course. Must have been a subconsious block on that word, you know, pervert.

  • barriejohn

    Whenever the subject of circumcision is raised now, I can’t help thinking about this sketch:
    And I have a strong suspicion that the only reason that they continue with the daft custom is that “I had to suffer it when I was a boy, so I’m damned sure that my sons are going to have it done as well!”

  • alb

    We do not change. And we will not change –
    even when bombarded with reason throughout our miserable lives.

  • tony e

    This is wrong on so many levels.

  • Broga

    This barbarity really got to me from a personal angle. We have just had a visit from our grandchild: born last December. And I just cannot get my head round how any parent or grandparent or anyone with any human feeling could bear to have this happen to a baby. What do the parents feel? How can anyone connected to the child, never mind anyone else, reconcile themselves to this, to the frantic howls of terror and anguish from a two weeks old helpless baby. The baby, of course, is not consulted and is the utterly helpless victim.
    This practice just has to be stopped and, in the current case, these criminals must be punished. Only religion, male dominated it seems,could possibly countenance this. It is beyond terrible and the horror is beyond any words I could get close to writing to describe the crime.

  • Pete H

    @ David Anderson:
    I think it’s perverting the course of justice, isn’t it?

  • David Anderson

    Pete H. Bloody hell, I got it wrong twice. Less wine is recommended.

  • Paul M

    “The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change.”
    Just because you’ve been doing it for a long time is a really weak argument in favour of continuing it. If we followed this line of reasoning then we would have to bring back slavery simply because we had been doing it for centuries.

  • “The Orthodox Jewish community will continue the practice that has been practiced for over 5,000 years. We do not change. And we will not change.”
    So they still circumcise their slaves? (Gen 17:13) And actually they did change, in the 1st century CE from cutting off just a little ring from the end. And actually it’s only about 2,500 years.

  • Is ritual circumcision any more of an abomination than non-therapeutic surgical circumcision? If so, how?

  • Newspaniard

    The abhorrent practise of circumcision should be outlawed full stop. How any parent can authorize the mutilation of their children is totally beyond me. The dangers to the child, especially to his sex life are considerable. 5 minutes on would tell you that in this day and age there are nearly no curcumstances in which the act is required medically. At least the Jews don’t cut off their females’ clitoris, I suppose that makes them more civilized in this matter than the other lot of barbarians.

  • Angela_K

    In any other situation a person with a child’s penis in their mouth would quite rightly be arrested and locked up, but as usual, religion trumps common decency, common sense and in some cases, the law.
    Religious practices, masquerading as cultural practices are obscene and must be outlawed.

  • Jacob Jonker.

    Well,a very interesting blog.And so many angles to explore.If I may be so bold as to mention a few.: We know that some religions in practically all of our Western democracies are more equal than others.Most of us do also know that one particular religion is far more equal than all the others here.Paradoxically,if I were to mention which religion happens to be favoured by the powers-that-be in our democracies,I could be taken to court for being a racist.Work that one out.That’s covert politics for you.:We also know that some races are more equal than others in our Western,democratic civil-,equal- and human rights set-up.Again,one particular strain of a certain race is far more equal than the other strain of that same race,as,indeed,all the other races represented in our democracies.I could probably chance it and mention the race of the strain which is far more equal than all other strains and races.It’s the Semites.:Next,sucking blood from a wound.To have anti-septic use;should be done by the person who has the wound.:Adding vinegar with the blood of the circumcised victim and the saliva of the blood-sucker(no pun intended,honestly) and then giving the victim some of this potion has esoteric religious significance,but is,in all likelihood,a health risk.As to the rest of the angles,one more:Knowingly exposing a minor unnecessarily to a health risk is done all the time in our culture.The reasons vary,but often the benefits are reckoned to outway the risks.In this case,it is a matter of socio-cultural selection by trial.The weaker boys would have more chance of dying from this practice.That is,the practice of sucking the blood from the wound of a minor(baby)by someone else.Circumcision itself is indefensible.

  • Bubblecar

    You really couldn’t make this shit up. Such a tragic failure of ordinary intuitive moral sensibilities. But that’s religion for you – the most disgusting perversion of human nature. We need to make “remove religion” the first priority of our transhumanist future.

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  • OMG.
    That is all.

  • Hitchens’apprentice

    Put the ‘Mohel’ in Prison, and let him rot there till he dies…. He can suck some Adult Penis while he’s there…………

  • Harry

    I am sorry, I can’t read any of this. Ick!

  • carver

    If we are alleged to be made in god’s image, then why do we need the end of our dicks snipped. Does god have a foreskin? If no, then who did the circumcision on the big guy? Does he even have a dick?
    This will have a high number on my “Stupid Religious Rituals List”

  • 1859

    Sick, sick, sick – blood, babies, ritual pain, cruelty, children, sexual acts, virgins births, peadophile priests, death, disease, silence,fear, brainwashed frightened women and self-righteous male fuckwits praying to the sky – religion is truely the most frightening and evil thing to have emerged from the human mind -gas chambers are nothing by comparison.

  • wyocowboy

    this is a very sick practice…it should be outlawed…I am not happy with the fact that I was circumcisim when I was f@#king circumcised when I was 5 years old…it is just right WRONG!!!! I don’t care if is someone’s religious practice it has consequences of death in some cases….it is mutilation..WRONG WRONG WRONG!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • raj kumar chhabra

    This is the religions all about……follow any religion and you have one way or the other……..that’s why i do not follow any one……religion makes you fool…

  • Remember that great old Gene Wilder movie, The Frisco Kid, about the Polish rabbi crossing the US in the mid 19th C? All the comedy of it surrounds his efforts to cling to his faith and traditions in the face of the hardships of the wild west. But at the end he flings off his robes and hat and says he is no longer a rabbi, because in a moment of danger he chose to save his Torah from a fire instead of saving his friend’s life. He is disgusted with himself for choosing his faith over a man’s life. These guys could learn a thing or two from him.

  • Nyarlat

    Any child NOT born into a religious family is a soul saved from earthly misery and serfdom.
    How can anyone believe in a “good” god? It´s obvious that nature is amoral and without mercy. Those who are fitter survive.
    I hope one day to see religious nonsense vanish from this planet. I hope these old man become even more infectious.

  • Jacob Jonker.

    Only a fully enlightened consciously aware humanity will be able to do away with religion.So if you want religions to go away,and the religious to become enlightened,change the world by enlightening yourself.